Today, at its annual conference, UK Export Finance (UKEF) announced the introduction of more flexible, fast-track financing for SMEs, aiming to facilitate easier access to international markets for UK firms.

Enhanced fast-track funding for UK small exporters

UKEF has broadened its ‘auto-inclusion’ scheme, offering swift access to trade finance products like the General Export Facility. This enhancement allows small businesses to obtain government-backed credit more swiftly, bypassing manual UKEF intervention.

The cap on support available under auto-inclusion has risen from £5 million to £10 million. This increase enables UK exporters to secure additional support simply by approaching a participating bank.

Small businesses have already benefited significantly, acquiring over £280 million in financing through the scheme since its 2021 launch.

Additionally, the maximum loan duration under the General Export Facility has been extended from two to five years, providing businesses with more adaptable repayment options.

‘Invest-to-Export’ initiative to support over 2,000 Jobs

UKEF announced its first ever ‘Invest-to-Export’ loan guarantee, facilitating a major foreign investment in North-East England. The financing aids South Korean firm SeAH Steel Holding in establishing a wind technology factory in Teesside.

This project will bolster over 1,500 jobs within the UK supply chain and offer substantial opportunities for suppliers of various sizes.

Tim Reid, CEO of UK Export Finance, stated, “We’re proud to celebrate another successful year of supporting UK businesses. In speaking with our customers – and especially with small businesses – it’s clear that ease of accessing finance and flexibility in repayment terms make a big difference for firms wanting to export.

We’re confident that our announcements will unlock even more deals for UK firms looking to sell to the world, whether they’re exporting for the first time or looking for the latest in a long line of export successes.”

Facilitating entry into major overseas markets

Approximately 7,500 UK SMEs currently export to India, one of the UK’s key trading partners. A new collaboration between UKEF and HSBC India aims to establish a financing programme to aid UK exporters entering this market.

The signing of a Letter of Intent to develop a financing programme under UKEF’s Standard Buyer Loan Guarantee (SBLG) programme potentially unlocks up to £100 million in loans for Indian buyers of UK goods and services.

Stuart Tait, Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC UK, commented, “HSBC UK has a strong relationship with UKEF, supporting British exporters to achieve their global ambitions. As one of the world’s leading international banks, we’re uniquely positioned to support the growth of trade and investment between India and the UK. We look forward to helping UK businesses tap into more opportunities – using our global network to bridge customers, cultures and economies.”

The conference also featured speeches from UKEF’s CEO Tim Reid, Lord Malcom Offord, Minister for Exports, and leaders from major financial institutions and partner organisations.

This announcement follows the recent Autumn Statement, revealing additional government support for SMEs to access global markets through UK Export Finance.